Winter mountaineering skills training in Scotland.

mehills In Preparation for my first mountaineering trip to the Alps, I did a 2 day, introduction to mountaineering course with Alpine Guides ( my experiences, I decided that I would visit Scotland in winter, every year.
I arrived on a Friday evening, after a 9 hour train journey at Fort William in Scotland.The fine details had been taken care of, even to the point of having a bath in my room, rather than a shower !.I laid out my stuff to get organized, then went down to the bar, to meet the organizers and course members and plan the weekend, over a pint. gear
setoff Our guide explained the many options available too us, but although everyone in England thinks Scotland is carpeted in snow 6 months of the year, this isn’t always the case.He recommended Anoch Mor, as it had a cable car, and we could get straight to the “action”.Our guide Matt (a qualified Alpine guide), Bill (a bloke very similar to myself, who does a rewarding “ordinary” job, but in his spare time, seeks out adventure,) and me, in my Buffalo top which I was keen to test.
As we got of the cable car, there was a Cafe/Bar called the snow goose.The cable car stops around 4:30 each day, and it is reckoned that 30% of the people on the hill, don’t make it, and end up walking back down.From the cable car, its possible to see the 2004,mountain biking world championship track.

Although its would take 2 hours to walk up, it only takes a world class rider an average of 5 minutes to descend using the track !

steephill The Skiers chair lift was closed, so it took nearly 2 hours to climb the staircase-like hill to the top.Although the Buffalo shirt kept me warm, when walking up hill, I just couldn’t keep cool enough.
We were taught various things about winter mountaineering, such as weather and navigation.We practised doing ice axe arrests (stopping yourself slipping down a hill, using an ice axe).We found a snow hole someone had dug.

It was amazing how warm it was inside.

easygully The view down easy gully. I was lowered down on a rope, and climbed out, using my crampons and ice axes.I loved being out in the snow. I learned so much on the course.Before, if I was on a hill walk, and there was snow, I would have avoided it, now, I would get my gear and head straight for it.
As well as the many skills we learned, we also got to do a mountaineering route.Here me, Matt and Bill are photographed on the peak of Anoch Mor. It was a fantastic feeling getting to the top.I am wearing my hat, which I lost. Bill was really genuine and commented that it really was an awfully hat.

Hearing this, from someone like him, convinced me to give it straight to the charity shop.

whiteout On the way back from the peak, we experienced a white out. It was exciting, and slightly scary.I took a picture with my camera, and this is all that came out !
We did various other mountain skill on the 2nd day, and even got a go at ice climbing.Here, we climb a route called the web. I was really cold when we did it, and even commented that I wouldn’t do anything like this again.A climber nearby said, everyone says that. When you get home, you will change your mind. He was right. I am going to do it again. webclimb
leg The course ran on Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday, I had arranged a private days guiding with a guide called Mark.I spent a whole day being taught specialist mountaineering skills, and the finer practical points of the art, such as where and how to carry an ice axe etc.I practised walking across mixed terrain for more than 3 hours to get completely comfortable moving on snow, ice and rock.

I didn’t get a moment to take any pictures, so this is the view from the web.

After each days mountaineering, we had a drink at the “goose” whilst waiting for the cable car.I like Tea and Coffee normally, but the taste of either, after a day on the hill, is too good to be described.Bill and Matt walking off the hill, viewed from inside the bar.

I would like to thank Twid, for an amazing course, and my 2 guides Matt and Mark.

Also, a quick thank you to the staff of the Alexander hotel who were kind and friendly to me whilst there.


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